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Nutrition Myths


  • Myth: You’re eating for 2 during pregnancy
    • Fact: Eating for two does not mean eating twice the amount. It is recommended that women eat an extra 300 calories during the last 6 months of pregnancy, this recommendation can vary therefore talk to your doctor about the amount of calories you should consume.
  • Myth: Gaining less weight during pregnancy will make delivery easier
    • Fact: It is recommended that pregnant women gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. The amount depends on weight status before pregnancy, consult with your doctor about how much weight you should gin for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women who do not gain enough weight place their fetus at risk for severe complications that can include premature birth.
  • Myth: Pregnant women only crave foods their body needs
    • Fact: Cravings should not be an indicator of nutritional needs. Follow the MyPlate recommendations to ensure you are providing your body and your baby with all its nutritional needs.
  • Myth: Full-cream milk is more nutritious to drink during pregnancy
    • Fact: Low-fat and skim milk have the same nutritional value as full-cream milk. Full-cream milk is actually unhealthier because it has more saturated fats and high-calorie. Choosing low-fat or skim milk instead of full-cream has more benefits in managing weight during and after pregnancy.


Physical Activity 

  • Myth: It’s dangerous to start exercising during pregnancy if you didn’t do it prior
    • Fact: Exercising can be very beneficial during pregnancy, if you are new to exercise starting slow and simple with a daily 30-minute walk. However, if you have not exercised prior to pregnancy ask your doctor if it is safe to do so.
  • Myth: It is not safe to do abdominal work during pregnancy
    • Fact: It is beneficial to engage in exercise that strengthens your abdominals and pelvic floor. However, after the first trimester avoid exercising on your back. Try these exercises and tips to continue ab exercises during pregnancy.
  • Myth: Keep heart rate under 140 beats per minute
    • Fact: There isn’t a target heart rate for pregnant women. To monitor your exertion during exercise, use the talk test, you should be able to carry on a brief sentence without running out of breath.
  • Myth: Running during pregnancy is unsafe
    • Fact: Experienced runners can continue as long as they stick to level terrain and listen to their body when they feel tired. It is important to note that ligaments and joints during pregnancy loosen and can make you more prone to injury. Use this guideline for tips on safely running during pregnancy.

Vitamins, Nutrients, & 

Folic Acid is a B vitamin that is essential for healthy growth and development and helps prevent heart and birth defects.

It is recommended that 400 mcg of folic acid should be taken every day before pregnancy and 600 mcg during pregnancy.

Good sources of folic acid include:

  • Broccoli
  • Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, cabbage)
  • Chickpeas and kidney beans
  • Inadequate folic acid intake can lead to:
  • Neural tube defects
  • Heart defects


Iron  is a mineral to help with blood supply for you and your baby. It is recommended that pregnant women need twice as much compared to healthy non-pregnant women.

It is recommended that 27 mg of iron is needed every day during pregnancy.

Good sources of iron include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Lean meat, poultry and seafood
  • Beans, nuts, raisins, and dried fruit

Inadequate iron intake can lead to

  • Infections
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Premature birth and low birth weight


Calcium is a mineral that helps in developing the baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves.

It is recommended that 1,000 mg of calcium is consumed every day during pregnancy.

Good sources of calcium can be found in:

  • Milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Orange juice
  • Broccoli and kale
  • Inadequate calcium intake can lead to osteoporosis in the mother.


Vitamin D is a hormone that helps the body absorb calcium.

It is recommended that 600 IU of vitamin D is taken every day during pregnancy.

Good sources of vitamin D include:

  • Sunlight
  • Salmon
  • Milk and cereal with vitamin D added

Inadequate vitamin D intake can lead to:

  • Low birth weight
  • Preeclampsia
  • Increased risk for cesarean birth


Iodine is a mineral that makes thyroid hormones to use and store energy from food and is essential for brain development in the fetus.

It is recommended that 220 mcg of iodine is consumed daily for pregnant persons.

Good sources with iodine include:

  • Fish
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Iodized salt

Inadequate iodine intake can cause:

  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm delivery
  • Hearing or learning problems


Where can I get these vitamins and nutrients? 

  • Prenatal Vitamins is a multivitamin for pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant. They provide you with the essential vitamins and minerals needed to have a healthy pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins can be bought over-the-counter or prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid taking more vitamins and minerals than needed. Although they are beneficial for the growth and development of your baby too much can cause harm. If you are unsure of how much you should be taking, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Eating a well- balanced diet can help in getting essential vitamins and nutrients needed for pregnancy into your body. Prenatal vitamins compliments healthy eating during pregnancy, therefore both should be practiced.


  • Doctors usually recommend not taking medicine during the first 3 months of pregnancy when the baby is developing organs. However, sometimes this is unavoidable if treating a health or mental disorder like high blood pressure or depression. If you are taking medication and are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant talk with your healthcare provider.
  • Medicine safe for pregnant women to take:
  • Acetaminophen for fever or pain (Ex. Tylenol)
  • Penicillin and a few antibiotics
  • HIV medicines
  • Some medicines for high blood pressure, asthma, depression
  • Medicine not safe for pregnant women
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Ex. Pepto-Bismol)
  • Phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine used in decongestants
  • Guaifenesin used in most cough and cold medicines
  • Doxycycline and tetracycline
  • Visit, LactMed a drugs and lactation database for information on medicine and how it might affect you or your baby through breast milk. All information and data are derived from scientific literature and peer reviewed. Talk with your healthcare provider before stopping or continuing any medication.

Food Safety

Food safety is very important during pregnancy due to hormonal changes that can weaken the immune system making the mother and baby more vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.

Foodborne Illnesses  

  • Listeria
    • Listeria is a bacterium that pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get than healthy adults.
    • Symptoms include:
      • Fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, confusion, loss of balance
      • Pregnant women often do not have symptoms; however, it is easy to pass onto your baby
  • Listeriosis can cause:
    • Miscarriage, premature labor, low birthweight
    • Late infections can cause intellectual disability, paralysis, seizures, blindness
    • Newborns with the infection can cause blood infections and meningitis
  • Listeria can be found in:
    • Hot dogs, lunch meats, bologna, deli meats
    • Soft cheese such as feta, brie, queso blanco, queso fresco
    • Unpasteurized milk or food
    • Refrigerated smoked seafood labeled as nova-style, lox, smoked, jerky
  • For more information on Listeria visit, Listeria from Food Safety for Moms to Be.
  • Toxoplasma
    • Toxoplasma is a parasite that infects about 85% of pregnant women.
    • Symptoms include:
      • Swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle pain
      • Symptoms are often hard to detect, therefore taking extra precaution during pregnancy can benefit you and your baby
  • Toxoplasma can cause:
    • Hearing loss, intellectual disability and blindness
  • Toxoplasma can be found in:
    • Raw and undercooked meat
    • Contaminated surfaces such as knives, cutting boards and other food that were in contact with raw meat
    • Unwashed fruits or vegetables
  • If you have a cat or want more information visit toxoplasma from food safety for moms to be to learn helpful tips to ensure your safety against toxoplasma.
  • Salmonella
    • Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause problems during pregnancy.
    • Symptoms include:
      • Stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, blood in stool or dark urine
  • Salmonellosis can cause:
    • Bacteria in the bloodstream (bacteremia), meningitis (in mother or baby), reactive arthritis
    • A form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome in severe cases within infected mothers
  • Salmonellosis can be found in:
    • Infected animals (this includes pets)
    • Contaminated food
    • Raw or undercooked meat, fish, or poultry
    • Unpasteurized milk, juice, or eggs
    • Mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, sprouts


Foods to Avoid

  • Seafood high in mercury
  • Hot dogs, lunch meats, bologna, deli meats
  • Unpasteurized milk, juice (freshly squeezed juice), cheese (feta, queso blanco/fresco, brie)
  • Raw or undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat (sushi)
  • Refrigerated pâté and meat spreads
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Unwashed fruits/vegetables
  • Raw sprouts


Foods to Limit 

  • Caffeine
  • Pregnant people should not consume more than 200 mg (2 cups) of caffeine a day. There is conflicting data between high caffeine intake and miscarriages, therefore it is better to be safe and limit the amount of caffeine during pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding mothers should also limit their caffeine consumption as it can transfer through  breast milk.
  • High caffeine intake can increase blood pressure, heart rate and the amount of urine produced. It can make you and your baby feel jittery, cause indigestion and trouble sleeping.
  • Caffeine can be found in coffee, green and black tea, energy drinks, and soda, and chocolate products
  • Visit Caffeine in Pregnancy to learn more.
  • Fast-food, Sweets
  •  Food high in salt, sugar and fats are not healthy for you or the baby, and can cause excessive weight gain and other complications during pregnancy. Cravings during pregnancy are understandable and normal and it’s ok to occasionally give in as long as you are eating healthy. Remember to monitor your fast-food and sweet intake.
  • Food and beverages with excessive sugar includes:
  • Fruit juice, sports drinks, flavored coffees, iced tea, cookies


Steps for Food Safety 

  • Clean. Be sure to wash hands, surfaces, cutting boards, knives and utensils regularly
  • Separate. Make sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and fish separate from other food. This includes using different cutting boards and knives when preparing the food.
  • Cook. Ensure that your food is cooked at the right temperature. Cooking your food high enough kills the germs that can make you sick.
  • Chill. Refrigerate your food promptly. It is recommended that you keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below.

Newborn & Infant


The CDC has reported that black infants are 15% less likely to have ever been breastfed compared to white infants. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition, it is free, and has many health benefits to the mother and baby. The mothers health and diet can alter the nutritional properties of the breast milk. Eating healthy, exercising and refraining from harmful substances can provide your child with optimal nutritional properties.

Infants who are breastfed have lower risks of: 

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Ear infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of:
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Visit CDC’s Breastfeeding page for information on proper storage and preparation of breastmilk. Other services include resources and information on breastfeeding.
  • WIC Breastfeeding Support offers resources and information at different stages of breastfeeding. Whether you are trying to learn, start, overcome, or thrive visit the website for more information. Other services that WIC offers to support breastfeeding includes:
  • Designated breastfeeding expert
  • Peer counselors
  • Buddy program
  • Find out if you are eligible here!



Breast milk might be the best source of nutrition for a newborn, however there are many factors that contribute to a parent’s choice in choosing formula. Formula can also provide nutritional benefits to your child and is formulated to mimic the nutritional properties of breast milk.

  • Choosing an infant formula can be very overwhelming with the various types and brands out there. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends iron-fortified formula is appropriate for babies up to 12 months of age. There are 3 major classes of formulas:
  • Cow-milk based formula
  • Soy- based formula
  • Specialized formula
  • Note: Soy-based formula is typically used when the infant has an lactose intolerant.
  • If you are unsure about what formula is best for your baby, talk with your child’s healthcare provider to find the best one that will fit their needs.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has a website that provides information on choosing an infant formula, formula feedings, formula buying tips and more.
  • Visit CDC How to Prepare and Store Powdered Infant Formula for more information on formula preparation and storing basics.


Feeding  Schedule

Newborn’s stomachs are very tiny; therefore, it doesn’t need much to feel full. As they grow, their stomachs get bigger and the amount of milk they need increases. Below are General Guidelines for Baby Feeding:

  • Newborns: eat every 2-3 hours (or 8-12 times every 24 hours)
  • For formula, each feeding should be 1-2 ounces. If your baby is showing signs of hunger give a little bit more.
  • If a newborn is sleeping for more than 4 hours, they should be woken up and offered breastmilk or formula
  • 2 months: 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours
  • 4 months: 4-6 ounces per feeding
  • 6 months: 8 ounces every 4-5 hours
  • 6-12 months: Solid foods are introduced during this time and amount of formula and breast milk can be decreased
  • It is important to note that the goal is not a strict feeding schedule for your newborn or infant. Pay attention to your baby’s cues to indicate if they are full or hungry. They will eventually fall into their own feeding schedule needed for their growing bodies. Overfeeding can cause babies to have stomach pains, gas, spit ups and have a higher risk for obesity later in life. One recommendation to avoid overfeeding and underfeeding is responsive feeding:


Responsive feeding has many benefits for a growing baby. Practicing responsive feeding can:

  • Help your baby develop healthy eating habits
  • Lower your baby’s risk of becoming obese or overweight later in life
  • Make feedings easier
  • Be a great time to bond with your baby
  • One of the reasons a baby cries is due to hunger. However, a crying baby can be difficult to calm down and feed. Babies show hunger cues before they resort to crying for feeding. Below are typical hunger cues:
  • Baby puts hands to mouth
  • Licking lips, sucking noises
  • Turns head towards breast or bottle
  • Clenches hands
  • It is important to, while breastfeeding and formula feeding, not to force your baby to finish feeding. Below are some cues to indicate that they are full:
  • Baby releases breast or bottle
  • Baby turns away from breast or bottle
  • Relaxes hands
  • Over time your child will show other signs of hunger and fullness. You can practice responsive feeding with breastmilk, formula or when introducing solid foods.
  • The United States of Agriculture provides a guide for use in the WIC program called the Infant Nutrition and Feeding. The guide provides in-depth information on nutrition needs of infants, development and infant feeding skills, breastfeeding, infant formula feeding, complementary foods and more.


Introduction to Solid Foods

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be introduced to solid foods starting at 6 months. However, you can begin introducing your child to solid foods earlier (about 4 months) if your baby:

  • Is able to hold their head upright on their own
  • Reaches or shows interest in your food
  • Able to bring objects to their mouth
  • Grasps small objects
  • Able to swallow
    • Introduction of solid foods is about establishing and maintaining good eating habits for your baby that is rich in nutrients. Taste preferences begin to develop during this time as you introduce new foods. Avoid feeding infants food and beverages with added sugars (fruit juice, sugar in cereal, ect.). It is important to note that the introduction of solid foods should be complementary and not a replacement for breast milk or formula. Infants only need a few spoonfuls.
      • Below are great first foods to start with for spoon-feeding:
  • Cereal. Infant cereals that are single-grain and iron-enriched. Check the label to ensure that it is single-ingredient.
  • Vegetables. Either smashed up or pureed to have a smooth consistency.
  • Fruits. Digestible fruits include finely mashed bananas, baby applesauce, peaches and pears.
  • Avoid feeding infant cereal or solid foods through a bottle.
        • Gradually introduce new foods one by one.
    • Foods to avoid until baby is 1 year
      • Honey contains a bacteria that is harmful to infants and can cause infantile botulism that can cause difficulties in eating and breathing.
  • Cow’s milk and soy milk. Children under 1 year have a hard time digesting the contents in cow’s milk and soy milk.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Nutrition

Importance of a healthy diet during and after pregnancy 

  • It is important to remember that during this time, your baby is counting on you for all of the nutrients to grow. Eating a well-balanced meal and daily exercise will help you and your baby be healthy. The goal during and after pregnancy is getting enough nutrients for your baby while maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Eating healthy during and after pregnancy can prevent
  • Excessive gestational weight gain
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Anemia and infections in the mother
  • Poor healing after birth
  • Early birth
  • Low-birth weight
  • How much should I eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
  • Most pregnant women need to eat an extra 300-500 calories during the last 6 months of pregnancy. The exact number of additional calories depends on your weight before pregnancy. Talk to your provider about what is right for you and your baby.
  • Similarly, breastfeeding mothers need to consume additional calories to provide nourishment for their baby. The amount of calories varies, but approximately an extra 300-500 calories is needed as mentioned by the CDC.


Food Groups and Daily Recommendations 

  • It is important to consume the recommended daily servings from each food group during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Food groups and daily recommendations are discussed below:
  • Protein: 2-3 servings (1 serving is approximately the size of a deck of cards)
  • Examples of protein rich foods:
  • Beans and peas
  • Lean beef
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Poultry
  • Salmon, trout, sardines
  • Whole Grains: 3 servings (1 serving is approximately ½ cup or 1 slice of bread)
  • Examples of whole grains:
  • Whole grain bread
  • Cereal, oatmeal, cornmeal
  • Fruit: 2-3 servings (1 serving is approximately ½ cup)
  • Examples of fruit:
  • Canned, frozen, dried fruits
  • Apricots, bananas, mangoes, oranges, tomatoes
  • Vegetables: 2-3 servings (1 serving is approximately ½ cup)
  • Examples of vegetables:
  • Canned, frozen, dried vegetables
  • Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, bell peppers
  • Dairy: 3-4 servings
  • Examples of dairy foods:
  • Low-fat yogurt, cheese, pasteurized milk
  • Water: 8-12 cups or more
  • It is not part of the food group; however, it is especially important to drink water during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it easier to become dehydrated.
  • To learn more about pregnancy nutrition visit, Pregnancy Nutrition
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a useful tool, MyPlate. Visit, MyPlate to learn more about nutrition and making healthy food choices for every meal. The tool also provides personalized plans based on your height, pregnancy weight and physical activity level.


Physical activity Recommendations

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans pregnant or postpartum women should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. It is best to spread it throughout the week, an example is 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Consult with your prenatal care provider if you should adjust your physical activity during and after pregnancy.

For more information on physical activity recommendations and guidelines visit, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition

Benefits of Physical Activity 

There are many benefits of engaging in physical activity during pregnancy for you and your baby:

  • Reduces backaches, constipation, bloating, swelling
  • Reduce risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, cesarean birth (c-section)
  • Reduce symptoms of postpartum depression
  • Boost mood and energy levels
  • Promotes healthy weight gain
  • Faster postpartum recovery
  • Physical Activity Safe for Pregnant Women
  • Walking
  • Stationary bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga and Pilates
  • Strength training


Physical Activity NOT Safe for Pregnant Women 

  • Exercise with a lot of jumping and bouncing
  • Contact sports that increase your risk of getting hit in the belly
  • Exercise where you have to lie on your back (after first trimester)
  • Activities that make your body temperature too high (hot yoga, hot Pilates, hot tub, sauna)
  • Avoid activities that increase your risk of falling
  • Warning Signs
  • During pregnancy your body goes through multiple changes. Be aware of warning signs that indicate you should stop exercising:
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Chest pain, or fast heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling dizzy, faint, or headache


For more information on physical activity during pregnancy visit the March of Dimes to learn more about exercise during pregnancy.